Learning a new language is extremely difficult. It takes a lot of practice, repetition, and conversation to gain the ability to communicate in a different language. I would like to offer up a few suggestions that can help you get a second language ingrained in your mind. These tips can certainly make the journey easier, but they by no means can replace the hard work that is necessary to learn a new language. If you are interested in picking up a second language, whether it is for business or pleasure, I recommend you start here.
1) Conversation Is Key
The most important thing that you need to do is have conversations with others who speak the language you are trying to learn. The conversations will be awkward, but if you want to improve then you need to speak with people who speak the language better than you. You will be more motivated to learn when speaking with a real person. Furthermore, language is something that needs to be processed, it cannot just be memorized. An hour of conversation is as good as multiple hours in a classroom or language course by yourself.
2) Keep Up The Intensity
Studying a language for multiple hours a day for two weeks is much more effective than studying one hour a day for two months. Language requires repetition, commitment, and investment. You will be better off really trying hard everyday for a few weeks, than spreading it out with inconsistent studying over the course of several months or years.
3) Start With The Most Common Words
Start with the 100 or so most common words. Learn these words and then begin making sentences with them, constantly. You should learn just enough grammar so that you are able to formulate these sentences. Do this until you are pretty comfortable with all these words. This will build you an incredible strong foundation with practical words and sayings that will help you keep a conversation moving.
4) Carry A Pocket Dictionary
Having a dictionary to translate words with you will help you maintain conversations, and learn the words in the process. Since you are using these words in conversation, you are much more likely to remember it later.
5) Keep Practicing In Your Head
If you don’t have anyone to carry on a conversation with then have a conversation in your head. Challenge yourself to think in the new language by practicing and constructing sentences. Fake conversations in your head will help you better visualize what you need to learn. Keep the dictionary on you so that you can keep the voice in your head moving when you are unsure of what to say.
6) Use Audio & Online Courses To Build Foundation
These study tools should only be used to build the foundation. I am talking about the study materials such as Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and DuoLingo among others. They do a good job of getting you from zero ability to a basic understanding of the language. This will help you speak basic sentences and phrases in just a few days time. Once you have this foundation, however, it will take real life communication (as we discussed before) to master the language.
7) When You Learn A New Word, Try To Use It Right Away
When you first learn a new word, such as looking it up in the dictionary during a conversation, make a point of using that word a few more times throughout your conversation. Studies show that you need to hit a certain amount of repetitions within one minute of learning it, in order to really lock it down. If you are able to repeat the word a few times, chances are it will stick.